Album: Kelly Clarkson: Breakaway
Street Date: November 30, 2004
Length: 44:44
Rating: 3stars
Reviewed by: Kevin

I have never liked American Idol. The entire process to me is just a pop music machine, and at the end of the journey, Simon owns your soul. The first CD Kelly put out had some well written songs by on staff writers, they put it out for the Idol masses to buy up. I liked maybe half of the material that came out of that process. Her voice is great, that is a given when you get that far in American Idol. But vocal abilities is only one element of a recording, if the rest fall short, it's not enough to save it.
A year and a half after her debut CD, she is releasing Breakaway, a CD in which time and effort have been put in to get a product that is much more about her than what the pop music machine had allowed the first time around.

1. Breakaway - The first single, it hit radio several month ago, attached to the Princess Diaries 2 soundtrack. This style of song is her greatest strength and she knows it. I think it was the perfect choice to release to radio and has potential of sticking around on Adult Contemporary stations for a long time to come.

2. Since U Been Gone - This is the song they released at the time of the CD release to get the last minute push for sales. It's more pop-oriented, makes a good single... but will be forgotten on the radio as quickly as it came. I also think that the title belittles the song by using "U" instead of "You've".

3. Behind These Hazel Eyes - It's been done. There's nothing to this song that has an original feel it, it's more like they went for a "safe song" on the CD, something that is pop friendly but leaves me disappointed.

4. Because Of You - This is a slow ballad that is pretty well done yet still feels lacking somehow. It was co-written and performed by David Hodges & Ben Moody (both formerly of Evanescence) and makes the ballad much stronger. You can feel David's influence most here with the piano driven sound.

5. Gone - They go from the ballad into this song with a hard beat. The timing on the verses feel very forced. Almost as though they concentrated so much on matching the beat that they sacrificed the flow that the song could have had. The choruses break away from that forced pace and sound great. So this song is a straight 50/50.

6. Addicted - This is the other song co-written and performed by David Hodges & Ben Moody. You can feel Ben's influence the most here, it's a rich song with almost epic sounds in the chorus.

7. Where Is Your Heart - Another ballad but has a feel much better than "Because Of You". Everything about this song really worked well.

8. Walk Away - Again the pacing does not feel natural here. It comes across as very synthetic especially were the synth beats are used and it's not even a subtle sound, its right there in the foreground.

9. You Found Me - Very enjoyable track. I try not to compare artists but in this case it has a very similar feel so some of Michelle Branch's work. It's another strong song on this CD.

10. I Hate Myself For Losing You - This is a great example of how good a song can be when not strictly attached to pacing. This song feels very natural, and Kelly does a great job vocally.

11. Hear Me - The CD takes a darker turn on this song. It's a good sound, good lyrics, and for all intents and purposes is the closer for the CD.

12. Beautiful Disaster (Live) - This is more of an afterthought. The live version of a song from the first CD. In some ways I can see why she might want this on here, something for the Idol fans, where the live performance was where it all came from. Yet I would have rather had this song sacrificed and the song "Bleed For Me" included somewhere on the disc instead (it may still surface someday as a B-Side or on a future DVD release).

Overall I think it's a CD Kelly should be proud of and the fans will enjoy. Kelly is all about the voice and based on that alone, she does great. But yes there's more to a CD than just the voice, and when they force a pace of a song, it throws off the entire song creating a couple very weak points on the CD. But it would still be worth owning.
3 stars

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